- The Assembly: The Supper and Anointing at Bethany (12:1-11)
- The Chief Priests Plot to Kill Lazarus and Jesus (12:9-11)
- The Appearing: The Triumphal Entry of the Son of David into Jerusalem (12:12-19)
- The Millennium: The Son of Man sought by Gentiles (12:20-36)
- Summary of Israel’s Response to the Lord’s Ministry (12:37-50)
The Assembly: The Supper and Anointing at Bethany (12:1-11)
Psalm 23 and the Supper at Bethany. We see a beautiful fulfillment of the 23rd Psalm in the experience of Jesus as He traveled toward Jerusalem. While Jesus was fully Divine, He was also fully man; with a human soul, feelings, and emotions. He rejoiced to count Jehovah as His shepherd, and cast all His care upon the Father. He had walked through parched desert for days, but the supper at Bethany was to His soul as "green pastures" and the fellowship of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus as "still waters". In this sense, His soul was restored and led forward in the "paths of righteousness". Times like this one gave our Lord courage, and that though He walked "through the valley of the shadow of death", he was not afraid, because His God was with Him. In Bethany, there were friends, but also enemies. The betrayer was there. The chief priests were taking counsel to put Him to death. Yet God was able to "prepare a table" before Him even in the presence of His enemies; i.e. the supper at Bethany. Finally, God brought along Mary, to anoint His head with oil. How this display of love would cause His cup (joy) to run over! In the refreshment of this scene, Jesus could go on to the cross, with confidence that goodness and mercy would follow Him, and after the work was accomplished, to enjoy of the presence of God forever!Parallel passages are Matt. 26:6-13 and Mark 14:3-9.
In Matt. 26 and Mark 14, Mary pours the ointment on the Lord's head. In John 12 she pours it on His feet. In truth, she anointed the whole Person... every part of Him was precious to Mary; "the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments" (Psa. 133:2). See the Lord's response, "on my body" (Matt. 26:12). But why the difference between Matthew and John? Matthew views Christ in the aspect of a king, so he writes about the ointment being poured on the Lord's head because that is how kings were anointed. John presents Christ as Divine, so he writes about the feet being anointed, because it would not be fitting for men to anoint the head of God, but rather for us to take our place of submission at His feet.Two individuals are contrasted in this account: Mary and Judas. The presence of the Lord manifests the hearts of each one, as the true Light, that coming into the world lightens every man; “that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:35). Notice that Mary used her hair to wipe the Lord’s feet. Paul explains in 1 Cor. 11 that “if a woman have long hair, it is a glory unto her”. Mary honored the Lord in her place as a woman. As an application, we can say that in collective worship, the silent priesthood of Christian women “fills the house” with the fragrance!
The Chief Priests Plot to Kill Lazarus and Jesus (12:9-11)
The Appearing: The Triumphal Entry of the Son of David into Jerusalem (12:12-19)
The triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem is important for a number of reasons. First of all, it marked the beginning of the final week of our Lord's life, called the Passion Week. It would have taken place "on the morrow" (John 12:12) after "six days before the passover" (John 12:1); i.e. on the first day of the week. Secondly, the triumphal entry was the final presentation to Israel of their King, the Son of David, at His first coming. It was a final opportunity for them to receive Jesus as their Messiah. After rejecting Him formally this final time, the Lord pronounced "your house is left unto you desolate" (Matt. 23:38). Thirdly, the triumphal entry was prophesied about 550 years earlier by Zechariah the prophet (Zech. 9:9)! It is a clear fulfillment of Messianic prophecy. It also marks the end of of Daniel's 69th week: "unto the Messiah the Prince" (Dan. 9:25). This event was so pivotal in the coming of our Lord that it is recorded in all four gospels.Parallel passages are: Matt. 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10, Luke 19:29-40.
The Millennium: The Son of Man sought by Gentiles (12:20-36)
"Son of man" is a title Christ has in special connection with mankind; as either the rejected sufferer at the hands of mankind and on behalf of mankind as the one who assumes the responsibilities of the whole human race, or as exalted heir and head of all that God has purposed for mankind. The Old Testament spoke of a coming "Son of Man" that would reign over all creation and have an everlasting kingdom (Psalm 8:4-8; Daniel 7:13-14). But "Son of man" is a title Christ took in rejection as well as in glorification. The connection between the suffering and glory of the Son of man is beautiful.Read more…
The Hour of His Glory Foreshadowed by the Request of the Greeks (12:20-23)
The Hour of His Suffering: The Death and Resurrection of the Son of Man (12:23-36)
- “What shall I say? Father, save me from this hour.” His anticipation of the cross caused the Lord to speak in such a way that we see His perfect humanity. “What am I to say?” He was pressed beyond measure. He considers asking to be saved from “this hour”; the hour of His sufferings and death. It is similar to Gethsemane where He said; “My Father, if it be possible let this cup pass from me; but not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matt. 26:39). In the Garden, Jesus asked from the cup to be removed, but only if possible, and if the Father’s will. Here in John 12, the Lord does not outright ask, but voices the thoughts of His troubled soul as a man
- “But on account of this have I come to this hour.” Immediately after suggesting that the Father save Him from the hour of suffering, the Lord affirms His full intention to go through with it all. He would not draw back now. He calls to mind that the sacrifice of His own life was the “cause” for which He had come to “this hour”. The great purpose of the Son in coming into the world the first time was, not to receive a kingdom as Messiah, but to die. “But now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Heb. 9:26).
- “Father, glorify thy name.” The simple prayer of the Son on earth to His Father is that His desire was for the Father’s glory. Cost what it may, Jesus was willing to bear it to glorify the Father’s name. This was the one, all-consuming object of our Lord’s life on earth: the glory of His Father. This was His perfection.
- Judgment to the world. The present state of the world is that it under the sentence of judgment. When the world cast out the Son of God, the world came into a place of irrevocable guilt. “Now is the judgment of this world”. How important it is for believers to realize this! The judgment of the world took place at the cross, but the execution has been delayed for 2000 years. Once the mystery of iniquity is full, the sword will fall, so to speak.
- Defeat to the Prince of this world. God does not exercise His power simply because He can. God is not a bully, like the pagan gods of Rome. When God uses His power, He does so on a moral basis. The cross was the moral basis for the eventual defeat of Satan, who is “the Prince of this world”.
It would appear that the original creation (Gen. 1:1) was committed to the hands of angels, over which Satan was the chief. It was an earthly paradise, called “Eden, the garden of God”. Satan was not a serpent then, but “the anointed covering cherub”, clothed with the reflected glories of God (Ezek. 28:14). But when unrighteousness was found in Satan, his heart lifted up because of his beauty, he was ejected from the angelic company (Ezek. 28:17), taking with him his demons; “the host of the high ones” (Isa. 24:21). It would appear that, under Satan’s influence, “the earth became without form and void” and remained so until God intervened. As soon as the reconstruction was complete, and Adam given the headship of creation, Satan immediately began his efforts to get the earth back under his influence.
When man fell, Satan laid claim to this world, usurping the Son's inheritance. The world fell under Satan's power through man's disobedience. Christ suffered on the cross to bear man's sin, and satisfy every claim that a righteous God had on man. Satan was "cast out" in a moral sense, because the grounds of his claim were totally annihilated! The cross outwardly appeared to be the casting out of the Son, but really it was the casting out of the prince of this world.7 Satan awaits a coming day when he will be literally cast out of the heavenly places, then cast into the abyss, and finally cast into the lake of fire. But while he awaits that day, he falsely continues in a role to which he has no claim.Read more…
- Attraction to all who believe. In death, the Son would become the attractive center for “all men”. He would be lifted up between heaven and earth, between God and the world. Those who would approach God must come unto God by the Son. It was not limited to Israel, but; “I, if I be lifted up out of the earth, will draw all to me”.89 This circles back to the Greeks who came to seek Him.
Summary of Israel’s Response to the Lord’s Ministry (12:37-50)
vv.37-50 In this final section, we have a summary given by the evangelist through the inspiration of God, of the Lord’s whole ministry, and Israel’s response to it. At the end, we have the final public address of Christ to the Jews.
Impediments to Belief (12:37-43)
Final Message: To Believe on Jesus is to Believe on the One Who Sent Him (12:44-50)
- Here is the truth said in Divine love. Not, indeed, that Mary had received any prophetic intimation. It was the spiritual instinct of a heart that had found the Son of God in Jesus, of a heart that felt the danger that hung over Him as man. Others might think of His miracles, and hope that murderous intents might pass away at Jerusalem as at Nazareth. Mary was not so easily satisfied, though she had witnessed His resurrection power with as deep feelings as any soul on earth. And she was led of God to do what had a weightier import by far in the Lord’s eyes than in her own. – Kelly, W. An Exposition of the Gospel of John.
- “…it was the glory to come — His glory as the head of all men, and, in fact, of all things.” – Darby, J.N. Synopsis of the Books of the Bible. John 13.
- But here the glory of Jesus was, manifestly, broke forth. It was but a small thing that He should be God’s Servant to restore the preserved of Israel; but He should be for a Light to the Gentiles. Glory was to come in here. He was to inherit the praise of Israel. Therefore the Lord says, “The hour is come, that the Son of Man should be glorified.” “I will make him,” saith the scripture, “the Head of the heathen; higher than the kings of the earth”; “the glory of his people Israel.” But He knew there was that which must come in first. … The King of Israel might have been received. This was the glorifying of the Son of Man. Other thoughts were necessary here; yet in dispensation the rejection of Israel preceded it. … The Gentiles did but show where it tended, what was all to come; glory indeed, but the glory of a rejected Jew, of a crucified Saviour, Lord; yet the glory of the Son of Man; for it must be by death. The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. This was witnessed in the coming in of the Gentiles; for they were to come to the light, the reception of Jesus by the Jews, which was here in a certain sense wrought, in the witness, that is, of God. – Darby, J.N. The Gospel of John. Notes and Comments, Vol. 6. p.192
- There are several expositors that connect v.23 more with what follows about the cross than with the coming day of glory in the Millennium. It is difficult to know which aspect of the Son of man’s glory is in view. I take it to be future here in ch.12 as a flash-forward, but I could be wrong in that. I’d welcome further light on this topic.
- To “hate” our life is not to hate the body, or to practice self-mutilation. This verse has been used incorrectly to support heathen religious practices such as walking on hot coals, licking the dust, or whipping one’s own back, etc. By contrast, the Word of God teaches us to honor the human body, insomuch as God will redeem our bodies, and raise them glorified when Christ returns!
- I believe that He had glorified it in the resurrection of Lazarus; He would do so again in the resurrection of Christ — a glorious resurrection which, in itself, implied ours; even as the Lord had said, without naming His own. – Darby, J.N. Synopsis of the Books of the Bible. John 12.
- By death He morally and judicially destroyed him who had the power of death. It was the total and entire annihilation of all the rights of the enemy, over whomsoever and whatsoever it might be, when the Son of God and Son of man bore the judgment of God as man in obedience unto death. All the rights that Satan possessed through man's disobedience and the judgment of God upon it, were only rights in virtue of the claims of God upon man, and come back to Christ alone. - Darby, J.N. Synopsis of the Books of the Bible. John 12.
- But grace makes Him manifest thus lifted up, the attractive centre for all, Gentile or Jew, spite of their sins, which He was to bear in His own body. – Kelly, W. Exposition of the Gospel of John.
- Some writers take a different position, that this refers to a gathering together for judgment. He does not speak of salvation but of judgment: His death brings all under His authoritative judgment: He has the right to judge as regards all: none can escape having to do with Him. – Grant, L.M. Comments on the Gospel of John.